Phi Kappa Sigma

John A. Worton ’48

Jack was born on October 29, 1927, in Fall River, Massachusetts, the fourth of five children of Ruth Middleton and James Worton. Shortly after his birth, his father changed employers, with short-term jobs that required the family to move to Sliver Spring, Maryland, and then to Chicago, Illinois. In 1932, his father became unemployed, and the family joined other relatives to live with his maternal grandfather on his farm in Enfield, Connecticut. Jack attended first grade in a one-room school there.

When his father regained employment, the family moved to Somerset, Massachusetts, where Jack attended public schools. Jack entered MIT at the age of 16, and under the schedule of year-round classes during wartime, completed his junior year in two calendar years. He then dropped out of MIT and served in the Merchant Marines as a staff officer. Returning to college, Jack graduated from MIT in 1948 with a degree in naval architecture and marine engineering. He later received an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Jack began his shipbuilding career with Electric Boat Company (later General Dynamics) in Groton, Connecticut. He recalled with pride his participation in the design and construction of the first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus, which included going to sea during her acceptance trials. Jack was employed by General Dynamics for 28 years at their shipyards in Groton, Connecticut, and Quincy, Massachusetts. During this period, he was involved with the design and building of dozens of submarines and surface ships for the U.S. Navy and commercial owners. He held specialist and managerial positions in a variety of assignments at these shipyards and in field operations in Canada and Charleston, South Carolina. During his more-than-four-year career, Jack held senior management positions with “start-up” shipbuilding enterprises in Newport, Rhode Island, Savannah, Georgia, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was honored to be called a “shipbuilder”.

Jack was fascinated with the marine field from an early age. He was an avid reader of books about nautical histories and events. Growing up in Somerset, located on the Taunton River, he learned to sail in the 7th grade. Jade was fortunate to have his own sailboat while in high school. During his early years at Electric Boat, he was an ardent sailboat racer.

In 1979, he married Aurelia M. Merrill. They moved to Newark, Delaware, in 1983. After retirement, they traveled to China, South American, and Europe. Jack was very interested in his family history and traveled to England, Wales, and Ireland to obtain first-hand information about his ancestors. He authored a history of his genealogy. Jack enjoyed taking classes at the Academy of Lifelong Learning, and he taught genealogy classes for many years. Jack was president of the Oaklands Civic Association in Newark. He served on the financial review committee of the Christiana School Dlstrict and was a member of the executive board of the MIT Club of the Delaware Valley. Jack was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity and a life-long member of the Society or Navel Architects and Marine Engineers.

Jack moved to the Methodist Country House in 2009, where he made many friends and enjoyed participating in their many activities and committees.